Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Airport security

I find airport security fascinating. I'm not a nervous traveller, I've done too much of it to let it get me down, and I know how to pack my whole life into one case to by-pass Ryanair's crazy baggage charges, but two stories about airport security have annoyed me recently. The thing I find tedious is when they do something stupid, and pointless so we feel safer, when in fact it does not impact on our real safety.

The first happened back in February. Thomas, my husband, was taking my son on holiday to Denmark.  They flew out to Copenhagen with no problems. They flew using Thomas's Danish passport, naming him Widmann, and Léon's UK passport naming him as Gautier. On their return, ie trying to get back into the country of the child's passport, Thomas was asked if he had any means of proving he was allowed to fly with Léon as they didn't have the same name! (That's Stansted for you!) He didn't. They asked if he maybe had his birth certificate with him. Funnily enough, he didn't. A few questions arise in my mind: firstly why would having a birth certificate saying he was Léon Gautier be any different to having a passport saying the same? If it was so they could see the relationship to Thomas, they can't. On Léon's birth certificate I am named as Phyllis Gautier, so even if Thomas happened to have Léon's birth certificate and our marriage one, we still seem not to be related to Léon. Secondly, if I had been flying in with him to Stansted, I would have had the same issue, as I, like thousands of mothers these days, do not share the same surname as any of my children. Thirdly, once they asked Léon who Thomas was and got his reply of 'he's Thomas of course!' they were  happy enough to let them pass, as if that actually changed anything. I am also puzzling over why they were worried about a foreigner flying into the UK with a UK minor, rather than out with one! And finally, why do you need to be related to someone to fly together? If Léon happens to get invited on holiday with a school friend, and I was happy for him to go... Anyway, I do not intend to start carrying a suitcase of paperwork to fly anywhere with my own child so it seems to me they need to drop it altogether or come up with some concrete rules!

The second, and even more ridiculous airport story occurred when my mother-in-law tried to fly out with a 200 box of Scottish tea bags. My father-in-law loves Scottish tea. She had bought them last minute and thrown them in her hand luggage. So if you were on that particular flight out of Edinburgh, the hold-up at security was the lady on the desk insisting on taking one bag at a time out of the box and passing it through the x-ray scanner, to check for...? Actually god only knows what x-raying a tea-bag checks for! I kid you not!

It's a mad world!

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